Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Interview: Laura Weymouth

Hi everyone! I'm starting a new series in which I interview fellow unpublished or newly published writers and ask them about their writing. The goal is for y'all to make some new connections and get to know some other authors.

Today's spotlighted writer is the lovely Laura Weymouth! Here's a little bit about her:

Laura Weymouth is a Canadian exile currently residing in the foreign wilds of Western New York. An amateur kid-wrangler, chicken-raiser, and wordsmith, she spends her spare time consuming far too much coffee, inventing new worlds, and trying to convince her husband that a miniature cow would make the perfect family pet. As a fourth generation immigrant, she's fairly sure she belongs everywhere and nowhere all at once, and writes heroines who feel the same way. 

1.     And the dreaded, standard first question! When did you start writing? 

--I've always been imaginative and wrote for school assignments, but I knew wanted to BE an actual writer when, in fourth grade, I wrote a terrible poem on a piece of scrap paper during recess, using my puddle boot as a desk. I'd read more Lucy Maud Montgomery at that point than is healthy for any one person, and as soon as I'd completed that poem, I knew in the depths of my fourth grade soul that I was going to be a poet just like Emily of New Moon. As it turns out, I'm completely terrible at writing poetry, but significantly better at prose. 

Side note: If, during your childhood, you generated a great deal of really bad, really melodramatic poetry, you may want to hunt down all existing copies and burn them. I have *heard* from my sources that if you don't, it's entirely possible your husband will discover a volume of those really bad, really melodramatic poems and take great pleasure in reading them out loud to family members. He will particularly enjoy the brilliant line "Put some soup in the pot, we like it a lot, it's never too hot."

2.     What was your first MS about? 

--My first completed story was about a knight who dies tragically on a quest, only to confess to his love on his deathbed that he really wishes he'd never become a knight in the first place but done something more mundane. Ah, the wisdom one possesses in third grade. My first completed full-length novel is a coming of age story about a boy named Little Joe Kite living in the Appalachians in the 1950s. As I have never A) been to the Appalachians or B) been to the 1950s or C) been a boy it is probably best if that particular MS stays in my bottom desk drawer where it belongs. Which is not to say that people can't write convincingly outside their experience, but I was 18 at the time I wrote The Lonely Road and did very little research. Also, it's called The Lonely Road (I have been working for DECADES to overcome that melodramatic streak. It's a losing battle).

3.     What is your current MS about, and why do you love it? 

--Well, the actual specifics of my current MS are TOP SECRET because of my SEVERE MELODRAMATIC TENDENCIES (I can't finish a novel if I'm not being mysterious about it--I'm sorry, in every other aspect of life I'm a relatively level-headed and mostly normal human being). But what I can tell you is that it's about how Main Characters (in particular, fantasy main characters) learn to function in the real world after their grand adventures and thrilling heroics, and how adjusting to life after the Adventure can be just as grueling and challenging as the Adventure itself, but also just as exciting and rewarding. Really it's about ordinary heroism--how the everyday bits of bravery, like carrying on with a draining task when you just want to quit, or getting up off the couch to help someone when you're bone-tired, or doing something mostly harmless that nevertheless frightens you, are just as honorable and worthy of respect and recognition as the more spectacular acts of heroism. And also, sometimes, just as difficult. And it's about how you can't have one without the other--unless someone's already spent their life being an ordinary hero, they won't wake up one morning and become an extraordinary hero. Basically if Samwise Gamgee is your favorite Lord of the Rings character, you will like this MS, and probably all my MSs. 

4.     Do you have a new shiny idea that’s distracting you from your current project? How do you keep your focus?

--Lol ALWAYS. But I've always got about a dozen ideas simmering in the back of my mind, so I just pull out an extra pot for the shiny new idea and let it stew (because I don't have a mind palace, I have a mind oven. I'm so Mennonite it's scary). Occasionally if something's really nagging at me, I'll write down a scene or an opening or a few scraps of dialogue, just enough to scratch the itch and open up a file for it, but then I go back to whatever I'm seriously working on at the moment.

5.     What are some things you love that usually end up in your MSs? 

--Tea--always tea. Kind boys--if your love interests aren't kind, don't bring them to me, I don't want them. Girls who are more than they appear to be. A sense of optimism regardless of circumstances. A 19th century inspired atmosphere. Shrunken heads (for real, though).

6.     Which fictional character would be your best friend? 

--Precious Ramotswe of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. We would just sit for hours drinking red bush tea and philosophizing. 

7.     What authors would you say have most influenced your writing?

--Oh boy. How long do we have? 😉 To start with, I grew up on 19th century literature, both for children and adults. Tennyson because he takes myths and makes them feel like history. Dickinson because of her quizzical way of looking at the world, and because of how she sees the divine in the ordinary. Tolkien and Lewis because I write fantasy and aren't all fantasy writers influenced by them??? Garth Nix because of his juxtaposition of the historic and fantastic. Madeleine L'Engle because she so beautifully balanced faith and art. Daphne du Maurier because I'd eat her descriptive passages for dessert. I'm going to stop there before my analogies get any weirder.

8.     Where’s your favorite place to connect with other authors?

--Twitter. Hands down, Twitter. The writing community on Twitter is fantastic and supportive. It takes a bit of time to plug yourself in and get involved, but it's well worth any writer's while. Participating in a big contest like Query Kombat or Pitch Wars is a great way of starting to make those connections.

9.     What else do you like to do besides writing? 

--Spending time with my family is a given--I have a wonderful husband and  two amazing daughters (ages 4 and 2). Besides that, I do a lot of gardening, of both the flower and vegetable varieties. I also raise Dominique chickens--they're the oldest American chicken breed, and really wonderful as far as poultry goes. That is all I'm going to say about them because I can talk about chickens for hours. Basically I'm a fan of anything that gets me outside and out of my head, which I think is necessary for writers, who can tend to be such interior people.

10.  Favorite GIF? 

--If I had a quarter for every time I say this to my husband...

man woman i want that

11.  Anything else you’d like to add? A pitch? A reading suggestion? An advertisement? 

--Sure! Actually, for all those fellow writers who are reading this, I'd love to add that I also moonlight as the Contest Coordinator at a fantastic website, Adventures in YA Publishing ( Our current contest begins June 23rd and the prize WHICH I AM PUMPED ABOUT will be a full request with general notes from agent Kelly Peterson of Corvisiero Literary Agency! So if you have a completed YA manuscript on hand, I would LOVE to see you enter our upcoming Red Light/Green Light contest. Details and the contest schedule are available on the AYAP website, where I blog every Thursday

Also, from me to all of you, happy writing! If you ever want to talk word-smithing, kid-wrangling, or chicken-rearing, my Twitter handle is @lauraeweymouth. I love making new writer friends, so go ahead and add me!

Yay! Thanks so much, Laura! Happy writing!! 

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